Review: Railroad Museum

I’ve been to the Railroad Museum with a friend in Utrecht, and I was honestly expecting to see nothing but trains being presented to us. However, I was pleasantly surprised by my trip there. Why I was surprised and by what, I’ll share in today’s review/article! Be aware: spoilers!

Railway Museum (Netherlands) - Wikipedia
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It’s, first of all, very easy to reach this museum. You can take a train there, or go by bus and walk for about 10 minutes. It’s a pretty neat location, with a building that’s still linked to the station that was once there and is still in operation. Technically, it’s still in operation when considering that one train, but it’s also a museum. You probably get what I’m trying to say by that.

Spoorwegmuseum - Interactieve kaart
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I couldn’t find an English map online, but the museum isn’t that big. You’ll honestly have seen everything in say 2-3 hours. That being said, there are quite a few things to see. First of all, you walk past a couple of trains stationed outside before entering the indoor bit. Those trains are massive! And so unique! They’re in amazing condition as well, which makes sense considering they’re in restoration and for sightseeing purposes. Doesn’t take away the fact that it’s remarkable, the condition in which you find them. After you’ve seen a handful of trains outside, you go inside, which is also what you need a ticket for.

De vuurproef (attractie) - Wikipedia
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One of the first ‘real’ attractions I wanna discuss, is the Trial by Fire. You enter this museum kind of room, where there are tons of artifacts and train objects being shown in glass cabinets. Once you’ve seen most of that, you line up on a number from one to six, choosing one of the three colours on the floor: red, green, or blue. Once the doors open, you sit on your number, watching a ‘show’ on a television screen explaining how trains work and how they first came to the country. There’s this Asian girl who’s then told to take you to the storage depot. The doors open again, and you’re supposed to stand on the same number and colour. She tells that she’s rather let you drive your own train, and tells you what your job is, corresponding to the number you’re standing on. The doors open once more, and you enter one of the three coloured trains. Once you sit down, she starts yelling what you need to do, which is sometimes hard to hear as the seats you’re sitting on actually move along with the ride shown on the screen in front of you. It’s kind of a simulator, in which you get a full-on experience with moving seats and special effects. But she’s basically telling you what to do and which button to press, which is of course fun for children, but not so much when it doesn’t have much of an effect. And even less when you can barely understand what you must do in the first place as the sounds surrounding you are louder than her voice. But, it’s overall a wonderful experience, and funny to witness, especially when it’s supposed to be some sort of VR experience. I’d say very cleverly done.

Stalen Monsters - Wikipedia
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This attraction was honestly the most surprising, and the most fun too! It’s a dark ride, and boy do I love those. The one nitty-bitty thing I have to say is that it was sometimes a bit slow, but that’s part of the show, so I won’t complain about that too much. You can pull down your safety yourself, which they don’t double-check. Weird, but, okay. Once you enter the ride, it takes off a bit slow and you’re left wondering: is the cart broken? Is this supposed to happen? Are we too heavy? But then you go through this railyard filled with trains and at some point, there’s this turning mechanism, like the ones they use to put real trains into a different position once stationed, and you move on. And the most pleasant surprise is yet to come! You eventually end up, once more, on this turning platform, and instead of going back or a different way, you descend, and that was so cool! You go underneath the train and darkness takes over. At some point, you ignore a red signal and almost get killed by an approaching (fake) train. The special effects were very cleverly done, and the decor was amazing! For a dark ride, I’d say this was very pleasant and well-designed. It can be a bit ‘scary’ for children, but I think they’ll still like it nonetheless. It’s definitely a very pleasant experience!

The Great Discovery - Het Spoorwegmuseum
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The last attraction I want to shine a light on is The Great Discovery. You enter this mine-looking entry and enter a liftshaft that’s at some point descending. It’s very cleverly made to make it seem as if you’re actually going down. Once you’ve travelled deep enough, to the righteous corresponding time, you enter the dark mines. This is sadly just a very short hallway. In my opinion, I would’ve loved to have a bit more of this mine experience. Once you enter the mines, you arrive in this tiny English street, telling you a bit of history about the people who designed the train you’re seeing after that and how their workplace looked back in the day. Lovely set design, but not that spectacular. Once you see the train, you have to exit via an exposition of art made from and for the stations in The Netherlands. It’s nice to see a bit of art, but there was one painting missing, which looked a bit sad. They also didn’t really mask it or put something in its place as a replacement. Just a red empty space still housing the explanation sign as to what the painting was supposed to be.

Het Spoorwegmuseum met korting: Vanaf € 12,50 (=28% korting)
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You find a few more trains inside, though a lot were moved outside to make way for an ice skating rank in the middle of the museum. There’s also a theatre, giving shows for about 25 minutes, and there are three different shows. Set designs are amazing, honestly very surprising how the decor on the stage actually turns 180 degrees with different set designs. The acting is a bit meh, but what to expect from a show that’s originally targeted towards children. For them, it was well-acted. There’s also an area housing model trains, in all kinds of materials. Pretty amazing to see them on a certain scale, made from a specific material. Then there’s also a bit of a tech lab where you can do tiny experiments and learn all about how trains work, which is fun. Oh, and there’s a train for really small children, up until the age of 12. It’s so cute to see them ride that, though a bit sad that we couldn’t ride it ourselves. Also, there’s one more specific thing I want to call out on before I end this review.

Tentoonstelling over rol spoorwegen tijdens WOII | Historiek
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This particular one was found in Romania at the beginning of this century. The car was confiscated by the Germans during World War II. What exactly happened to this car during and after the war can no longer be traced. However, visitors to the Railway Museum strongly associate the wagon with Jewish transports because of its appearance. The museum, therefore, decided to use the wagon in the exhibition about the role of the train in wartime. It was first made in 1914, and once I set foot in it, I immediately knew this wasn’t just any car. It was one actually used in World War II. I felt the presence of souls who died there, souls who wanted to try and make their voices heard. I’ve probably explained to my readers before that I can sometimes feel the presence of spirits and souls and can feel what they’re trying to tell me. A few people died in that particular car, and I could point out where they had died. It wasn’t the nicest feeling, but it was also an experience I’ll never forget ever again. The car plays a few testimonies of people who were riding cars like those, those who did survive the war, whereas many didn’t. They talk about a certain day, what that day looked like, and where it took place. Very interesting, and I’m very proud that, despite the grim feeling I got and received from this particular car, they did decide to listen to the visitors and use it to exhibit this grim piece of our history.

Is it worth visiting this museum? Yes, definitely. Despite there not being that much to see and witness, it was still a very pleasant experience and I was pleasantly surprised once we had seen everything. It definitely exceeded my expectations!

Love, Skye Lewis ❤

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